Coping With Divorce When Children Are Involved

A divorce is a life changing decision made when a marriage has fallen apart. When a couple has children, it can be a million times more complicated. If they are very young, they may not understand why one parent has moved out and is suddenly not in the picture on a daily basis.

If they are a bit older, they may feel that the situation is their fault. It is important that you handle these circumstances carefully in order to make it as easy as possible for your children to adjust to live after a divorce.

The first thing you want to do is sit down and discuss the situation with your children. It is best for both parents to be present during this conversation. This allows your kids to see that there are no hard feelings between the two of you, and that life will be okay with one parent living elsewhere.

Explain that the decision was made between you and the other parent, and that the children had nothing to do with it. Leave out any negative information, and avoid pointing fingers or arguing with your ex-spouse in front of the children.

During this conversation, you must also make the children understand that the divorce was not their fault. Children may not see the bad things going on in their parent’s relationship, so they naturally assume that they are the cause for the separation.

They think if they had behaved better that their parents would still be together. You must not let them take the blame. They need to know that they were not even a slight part of the reason that you and your ex have decided to end the marriage.

Since child custody arrangements will need to be made, you will need to keep your relationship with your ex-spouse civilized. This is not just for your children’s sake, but it will also make things run smoothly in the situation of visitation, holidays, and other situations that arise regarding the custody the two of you share.

Your children should never see the two of you argue, call each other names, or anything else that could make them feel bad. Also, avoid making your children the messengers between you and your ex-spouse.

Competition between parents is very unhealthy, for both the adults and the children. Trying to be your children’s favorite will do nothing for you in the long run. All it will do is tear your children apart. There will be a great deal of stress placed on the kids if they are forced to choose their favorite parent. This is completely unnecessary, and no child should have to be faced with such a decision.

Here are a few more tips to coping with divorce when children are involved:

  • Be kind to yourself, beating yourself up serves no one and your children are watching.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Being a single parent is not easy, therefore rely on friends and family to help you when you need it.
  • Make sure that you take some time for your own self care because this is important. Divorce is an emotional roller coaster for you and your children and they need you to try to be the nest you can be for them.
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blending families

Taking Care of Your Children After Divorce

It can be scary to think about how you will take care of your children after a divorce. There are going to be many changes on the horizon for everyone to deal with. Yet you need to be confident that you can take care of them. Even if you have to turn to friends and family members for emotional and financial support you can do it. Taking care of your own needs is vital as you can’t successfully care for your children if you aren’t okay yourself.

Don’t be too stubborn to take advantage of the help that is offered. Ask for what you need from those that do offer to be there for you. It may be someone to listen to you or to care for your children for a few hours. You may need to seek professional assistance to help you with your emotions. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling for all of you if you feel it could be beneficial.

Establishing a solid budget for the new family structure is important as well. You need to know you will be able to keep a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, and food on the table. Cutting out unnecessary expenses is going to have to be part of the plan for most people that have just been divorced. In time your finances should improve and you will be able to add in some comforts again for everyone to enjoy.

Some parents worry that their children are going to miss out on material things due to the financial changes a divorce can bring. While it may take the entire family some time to adjust to such changes, everyone will be just fine. The truth is that as long as their basic needs are being met they will get by. In fact, it may serve as a lesson that teaches them to appreciate what they do have.

Think of cost effective things you can do as a family. You may spend the afternoon at the park or going for a walk. Play board games or watch a movie together. When money is tight you can all do things that allow you more time to bond instead of being an additional expense for the family.

Communication is very important when it comes to caring for your children after a divorce. Make sure your children feel safe enough to come to you to talk. If you break down in tears every time the subject of the divorce comes up, they will clam up. While you may get emotional during the discussions you have to be strong. If you are positive about everything turning out fine they will believe in it as well.

Be as honest as you can about what took place and why. Children will have various questions about the divorce. Some what to know why it happened overall such as why the family had to deal with it. Others want to know the specific reasons why their parents aren’t together. Make sure you fully understand what your child is really asking before you start to answer.

You do need to do your very best to get along with the other parent. You want to make it possible for both of you to take care of the children. In fact, their support can help you to have the personal time you need. They may be willing to assist you financially as well if you are struggling to make ends meet.

It can be hard to take care of your children after a divorce. Yet many parents will tell you that is all that got them through such a difficult time in their lives. They focused on being strong for their children and there were days that got them out of bed. It can be hard to go from a two parent household to one, but many people are successfully doing just that every day.


Making Special Occasions Comfortable for Children after a Divorce

It is very important to make special occasions comfortable for children after a divorce.

You may find it is better to have birthday parties at both homes and most children will love the extra attention. However, there will be some events where they can’t be divided and that is where communication between the parents is essential.

Children don’t get a say as to what is going to happen due to a divorce. So it is up to the parents to always keep their best interests in mind. When your child has a dance recital, a school play, sporting events, dances, and even graduation they will want both parents to be in attendance. You don’t want everyone to be tense due to who will be attending the event either.

There are many children from divorces families with sad stories to share. They will tell you how their parents were fighting during a certain gathering.

Some children will stop being involved in various activities just so they can avoid the conflict that will arise when their parents show up at the same event for them.

Other children have stories of one parent refusing to attend a special occasion due to the other parent planning to be there. A child should never be placed into such a difficult situation where they have to choose one parent over the other. It can backfire on the demanding parent too because their children may end up resenting them for acting in such a manner.

It doesn’t matter how old the children are either – it will still affect them. I have seen women cry on their wedding day because their mother wouldn’t attend the ceremony if the father was walking her down the isle. Young children are deeply affected by this type of conflict.

Don’t assume that they don’t know what is going on as children tend to pick up on many issues that parents don’t give them credit for.

For many newly divorced couples this can be very hard to do. They may still be struggling with their own emotions from the divorce. It can be difficult to see the ex spouse at events. It is okay to feel this way but you need to be honest with your feelings about it. You may express to your child that it is difficult to see their other parent at the event but you are willing to give it a try for their sake. They will appreciate both your honesty and your effort.

It is the parents who really want their children to be happy that will work to make special occasions comfortable for everyone after a divorce. They may not want to sit together at the event or hang out, but they can be respectful of each other. They can also set a very good example for other people on how to always put the needs of your children first.

For most couples, this will get easier as time goes by. The wounds from the divorce will start to heal. They may even become somewhat friends as they are able to focus on the good things about each other again. This is a process that is going to take some work though. It won’t just happen and so a conscious effort by both of the parents has to be there.

Don’t let your own foolish pride prevent your children from being able to shine at their special occasions.


Mediation- Answering Your Questions

WHAT IS MEDIATION? WHAT DOES A MEDIATOR DO?

Mediation is used to come to a peaceful resolution with another party through the whole process of a separation, from start to finish.

The mediator acts an as “independent” and will work with you to find solutions that best fit all parties’ needs. As a neutral third-party process, mediation creates a safe and confidential environment that encourages negotiation, ideas and solutions.

WHEN CAN PEOPLE TURN TO MEDIATION?

Mediation can be used at many stages through a separation, divorce or relationship breakdown—whether, before, during or after.

Mediation is most commonly used for the separation process. For more information about the mediation process visit https://claritydivorce.com/what-is-the-clarity-approach/.

WHAT DOES MEDIATION “LOOK” LIKE?

At Clarity, you both attend a mediation session, where the mediator (a neutral party) will discuss all aspects of your separation. The mediator will help you both in negotiating the terms of your separation, including (but not limited to):

  • Custody and access
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Division of assets and debts, household items, pension etc.

The mediator will help you both with building an agreement outlining how your separation will proceed, including future decisions. Once everything has been negotiated and agreed upon, the mediator will draft up an agreement. You will both have the opportunity to review the agreement and make changes before signing.

At Clarity, mediation can also be used for parent-child conflicts—for example, if your child or teen is having difficulty dealing with their family situation and needs a third party to help explain their perspective.

WHAT IS A SEPARATION AGREEMENT?

A separation agreement sets out in a legal document many important decisions regarding division of assets, division of debts, child support, and spousal support.

CAN’T WE JUST WRITE OUR OWN SEPARATION AGREEMENT?

You can; however, we very strongly encourage you to involve a professional in the writing of your agreement. Here’s why:

A separation agreement is the single-most important document of the entire separation process. This is the document you will need to follow for the next several years of your life. Therefore, it is important that you both know your rights and what you are entitled to.

Even if you and your spouse are on the same page now, things may change—and you don’t want to end up in a very messy situation later on.

Also, if you do your own agreement, it is not legally binding in court. This may cause several issues for you when trying to divide assets, as not all parties accept self-written agreements (like mortgage brokers and banks etc.).

As such, we very strongly encourage you to involve a professional in the writing of your agreement.

IS MEDIATION GENERALLY SUCCESSFUL?

Yes, in a vast majority of cases, the mediation process does result in the drafting of a mediated separation agreement. While the mediation may take 2-3 sessions, the process carefully moves our clients to a place of “yes”: a scenario where they feel they were heard and that their needs and interests were effectively managed.

WHAT IF I WANT TO SKIP MEDIATION, AND GO STRAIGHT TO HIRING A LAWYER?

We recommend mediation first. It is less expensive, and the process is less time-consuming and less adversarial. Plus, you may be able to find a solution through a mediator, without involving a lawyer at all.

EVEN IF WE USE MEDIATORS, DO WE STILL NEED TO HIRE LAWYERS?

You do not need to hire lawyers; however, you may choose to have your agreement reviewed by a lawyer. We can advise you of your options, based on your unique situation.

CAN WE USE A MEDIATOR TO HELP WITH OUR DIVORCE?

You certainly can. Simply put, a divorce is just paperwork; a lawyer is not necessary for getting a divorce. One of our Clarity professionals can write up the documents on your behalf.

IS MEDIATION EXPENSIVE?

Mediation provides an economically feasible alternative to retaining legal representation.

Also, if you have retained lawyers, but feel they are representing your case inadequately, mediation is a highly sought-after alternative.

If you are unsure if mediation is for you, or for more information contact us here https://claritydivorce.com/


What you should know about Separation and Divorce

What is the difference between Separation and Divorce?

Separation refers to you living separately and apart from your spouse. You are still legally married. (Once you and your spouse decide to separate, you can move forward with the mediation process.) To simplify the separation process includes the following:
  • Living separate and apart for one year
  • Going through the mediation process (or going through litigation AKA court)
  • Completing a legally binding agreement

If you so wish, the courts do not need to be involved in the separation process.

Divorce refers to paperwork you file with the court to receive a legal divorce.

What do I need for a separation?

During your initial consultation your mediator will advise you are to what you will need for your specific situation. Generally, all financial information is necessary including but not limited to:

  • Notice of assessments
  • Pension valuations
  • All assets
  • All debts
  • Property values
  • Bank account information
  • Savings account information
  • Credit card information
  • Line of credit information
  • RREP or RESP information
  • Investment information

Do I need a lawyer?

The short answer is no. There are ma ny separations that take place without the use of a lawyer. Once the agreement is complete you do have the option of each visiting a lawyer for Independent Legal Advice (ILA). Clarity works with a network of lawyers who's mandate is aligned with our own.

What do I need for a divorce?

At Clarity we have made the divorce process simple for you. We provide you with a document that you each fill out and return to us. In addition to the form we will need your original marriage certificate. Once we receive those two documents we take care of everything from there.

What if we argue or do not agree on certain aspects of our separation?

That’s ok! This is exactly what we are here for. Our mediators are trained to work with you whether is conflict or not. Clarity has successfully mediated some of the most adversarial and controversial cases to full agreements. As long as you and your spouse are willing to following the process, there is a good chance we can get you through it.

Do I need a divorce?

If you wish to no longer be legally married to your spouse, you will need to file the paperwork for a divorce. (We can help you with that.)

For more information about separation and divorce visit https://claritydivorce.com/separation-and-divorce/

Separation and Divorce Services

What is the Clarity Approach?

Clarity is here to help simplify things for you—and hopefully, remove some of your burden.

Our mediation specialists offer support and guidance including:

  • Helping you understand your legal rights and responsibilities
  • Developing legal agreements (regarding custody, division of assets, and more)
  • Filing paperwork on your behalf
  • Identifying ways you and your spouse can both move forward—in the most cost-effective and emotionally healthy way possible
  • Ultimately, Clarity’s goal is to help keep you both out of the courtroom (which can be very costly). Mediation can help ensure all parties come out successful on the other side of a separation or divorce—without going through litigation.

At Clarity we believe that the process of separation can be simple, quick, and far less expensive that the alternatives. We work with you towards your goals so that you come out of the other side with your finances, emotions, and dignity still intact.

What makes us different?

Clarity uses a simple team approach to make sure that all aspects of the separation are taken into consideration. We work with YOU as part of our team to ensure that both parties move in the direction or positivity and equality.

What is the Clarity Process?

With Clarity, it is simple. Here how we structure our mediation services to best serve you.

Mediation is the process by which a Mediator works with you both to negotiate the terms of your separation and produces a legally binding document outlining those negotiations and agreements. Mediation is much more time and cost effective than the alternative of litigation (where you would each retain a lawyer).

 STEP #1. Individual Consultations.

This is the first step where you both schedule a consultation individually. This gives each of you the opportunity to meet with the mediator and discuss any potential issues, ask questions, address any concerns and understand the process.

This is of great benefit as it does assist the mediation process to go somewhat smoother as the mediator has to opportunity to assess where the potential difficulties may arise and where the triggers may cause conflict.

In addition, during your consultation your mediator will discuss any forms or information that they may need for the process. Once you have completed the consultations you will then move into the mediation process. There is a one-time fee each for the consultations.

STEP #2. Mediation.

Once you have completed your consultations the mediator will then schedule your mediation. With mediation, you would both attend the session where the mediator will discuss all aspects of your separation. The mediator will assist you both in negotiating the terms of your separation including but not limited to custody, access, child support, spousal support, division of assets and debts, household items, pension divisions and so on.

Mediation is charged by the hour and will take as long as is necessary for all avenues of the separation to be negotiated and agreed upon.

The mediator will be able to assist you both with building an agreement that will outline how your separation will proceed including future decisions. Once everything has been negotiated and agreed upon the mediator will draft up an agreement. You will have the opportunity to review the agreement and make changes.

In addition, you will be given the opportunity to seek independent legal advice (ILA) if you so wish but this is not entirely necessary. Once the agreement is complete all parties will sign it and that completes the process. You are now legally separated, but not divorced.

To learn the difference between separation and divorce click here: https://claritydivorce.com/what-you-should-know-about-separation-and-divorce/

 


Getting Through the Holidays After Divorce

Your first Holiday season newly divorce can be very difficult for you, your children, and even your ex. Emotions are on the rise, traditions will be different, and certain members of the family will be absent. There are so many variables and moving parts during the holidays that it makes preparing difficult. Emotions that you thought you were over, come flooding back, your children are expressing more difficulty or sadness. It is important to know that you are not alone, and you are experiencing a stage of post-divorce that most families go through.

Knowing how difficult this time can be, we have put together a few tips for you.

  1. PLAN: Having a clear plan of who will have the children when and where everyone will be is extremely important. When the children are aware of what will be happening it reduces anxiety and everyone feels better when there is a plan!
  2. Be FLEXIBLE: Just as much as having a plan is important it is also important to be somewhat flexible. We all know how crazy everything can get around the Holidays, just go with the flow.
  3. BE PATIENT: Be patient with yourself and with your children. Whatever emotions come up, let them, validate them, and process them. Do the same with your children. Know that what each of you are going through is ok, its normal, and you will get through it.
  4. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LOVE AND SUPPORT: Get together with friends and family, with people who love you and want to be there for you. Being alone on the holidays can magnify the difficulties, let people hold you up and support you and your family.
  5. MAKE NEW TRADITIONS: It is hard to let go. To let go of the past, of the could haves, should haves, and what could have been. Grieving the loss of the family as it was and letting go of the old traditions of the way things were can be very difficult. Focus on the new. Create new traditions, think of things that you have always wanted to incorporate, get the children involved, and make it your own.
  6. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS: Tony Robbins states that anger, blame, and sadness cannot exist while we are in a state of gratitude. Be grateful for what you DO have and not what your feel you have lost. Write a list of everything to be grateful for, do it as a family and put it on your fridge. Do it daily or weekly or whenever you need a pick-me-up. You can never be too grateful.
  7. MAKE A NEW YEARS RESOLUTION: Leave last year in the dust and make a New Year’s resolution for you and your family. Setting goals can me motivating and inspirational. Create a step by step plan on how you are going to get to where you want to be. Do you want to work on yourself? Find a workshop. Do you want to be healthier? Find a gym or program. Do you want to have a better relationship with your children? Hire a professional. There are always answers and there is always a way to get you to where you want to be!

If you are struggling through the holidays, if you need a plan for the holidays, if you need support or want to work on your goals…. We can help! Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.


Meet our Mediators: Diane Valiquette

What is your background?

I have extensive training in alternative modalities with regards to relationships. I also have training in Collaborative Law and Mediation. In addition to that, I trained under Dr. Bruce Fisher who is the author or the Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends and Founder of the Fisher Institute in Colorado. I went to Colorado to train specifically with him and to learn about rebuilding after divorce. I have been teaching the Rebuilding for over 20 years and mediating for over 10 years.

What made you want to become a mediator?

Well there are three reasons. One reason was when I was going through my own divorce it was very difficult. I was a single mother to two little children and I was I hitting rock bottom. I was devastated and hurt. I noticed that I had to go to all these different places for different services for myself and my daughters. The lawyer’s office downtown, counselling for myself in one place, counselling for my children in another. I also noticed that mediation was not promoted and it was not as readily available as it is today. So many people go right to a lawyer’s office because they believe that that is the only option.

The second reason was when I started teaching the Rebuilding Workshop I noticed that so many people did not know about mediation and did not know where to find the resources. It was at that time that I wanted to create the Separation & Divorce Resource Centre where people could find everything they needed under one roof.

The third reason was for the children. Children so often get lost in the shuffle of divorce and get plowed over by the Family Law System. Families get torn apart and so much anger and hate come from the battles in the court room. I believe that through mediation we can help families to separate in a much more respectful and caring way so that we can minimize the amount of hate and anger that follows. If we are able to do that then co-parenting is much easier and the children so not suffer as much.

What should people know about you?

I’m a straight shooter and anyone who knows me knows that I get right down to business. This translates to my mediation and my teaching because I don’t like to waste time and drag things on. I like to help people to help themselves and I like to do it in the most efficient way possible. People don’t need to be tied up in their separation process for months and years. Another thing people should know is that I am extremely child focused with everything that I do but especially with mediation. The children in any case are always my priority.

How do you feel the SDRC is different?

Our mandate is to help our clients in the most time and cost effective way possible. We want to get results, therefore we tend to stay away from long drawn out processes that often leave people with high bills and wasted time. Our clients can generally go through the mediation process and have their agreement within 1-2 months depending on the case.

What do you wish people knew about mediation?

I wish people knew that it was not as complicated as it seems and that if they can just work together somewhat then we can have results. I wish people knew how much better it was for children that they work together and figure out a way to do this all amicably. I wish people knew that you don’t have to spend thousands and thousands on lawyers’ fees and that it does not have to be so adversarial.

How do you think people can prepare for mediation?

I usually recommend that people bring with them anything pertaining to their financials such as most recent Notice of Assessments, mortgages, car loans, anything to do with any debts or assets. After our first meeting I have a better of idea of there is anything else that I need.

If you could tell the people who are just separating one thing what would it be?

There is a better way. There is a holistic approach. You can get through it without the fighting, the lawyers, the back and forth and the courts. I wish people knew that often it is not the divorce that causes the most impact on the children but the way the divorce is handled.


Tara Vargas Nicol

Meet Our Mediators: Tara Vargas

What is your background?

I graduated University of Ottawa with a B.A. in Social Sciences, Honors in Criminology and Political Science. I completed graduate studies with the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution with designations in: Mediation, Negotiation, Third Party Neutral training, Deep-rooted conflict (family and community), Behavioral Analysis . I later went on to work as a corporate mediator  for a learning centre. After, going through my own personal marriage breakdown I decided to focus my attention on Family Law Mediation and completed the required Family Law training.  I am currently a member of ADRIO (Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario) and continue to grow my Divorce Mediation Practice with the SDRC.

What made you want to become a mediator?

I have a passion for resolving conflict in a peaceful way.  I believe that the root of all conflict is mis-understanding and lack of communication around individual deep-rooted needs.  I feel that if people have a safe environment to speak their needs that conflict can be resolved.  I like to focus on the solution not the problem.  In family matters I believe that families can learn to move forward after relationship breakdown and live happy, fulfilled lives once they learn appropriate ways to communicate.

Why did you chose the SDRC?

The philosophy of the SDRC resonated with me because after going through my own personal marriage breakdown, I realized how lonely the process was.  I didn’t know who to turn to and where to look for sound advice.  I needed help not only with navigating through the multitude of learning my legal rights, but also through the pain of separation.  The SDRC embraces the philosophy of supporting individuals through all stages of breakdown, from therapy, to relationship rebuilding, to mediation and after-care.  Divorce does not break people, how it is handled does.  I feel the SDRC is the best place for me to conduct my practice and be able to carry through my passion to help others thrive not just survive the trauma of relationship breakdown.

What do you wish people knew about mediation?

Mediation is a vehicle to effectively resolve matters.  It allows individuals to deal with issues and come out with a collaborative solution that is fair to all parties.  It allows the parties to have more control over the outcome as they are active participants in the process instead of being passive participants in the traditional legal forum.  Mediation takes an already adversarial situation and neutralizes it so that a fair resolution can be agreed on.

How do you think people can prepare for mediation?

Clients can begin by writing down what the conflict is about, how they are feeling currently about it, what concerns they have going into mediation, and what is the potential outcome they would want from mediation.